The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Thursday launched a national campaign to rally the support of Nigerians for the military, especially in the fight against insurgency.
”The men and women in uniform who are risking all, including making the ultimate sacrifice, to keep us safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale,” the Minister said while launching the campaign, tagged the National Campaign in Support of the Military, in Abuja.
He said it is particularly important for Nigerians to support the military at a time that it is facing a heightened challenge from global terrorists.
”As our gallant men and women in uniform clear the remnants of the home-grown insurgency called Boko Haram, they are confronting a fresh crisis, a global insurgency. A faction of Boko Haram has aligned with the global terror group, ISIS, to form ISWAP, the Islamic State’s West African Province. In other words, ISIS now has a strong foothold in West Africa – with Nigeria in the forefront of the battle against them.
”Those who do not understand the fresh threat facing our nation, nor appreciate the sacrifice of our troops, have now made it their past-time to wage a campaign of disinformation against the military, especially in the social media. Doctored videos and pictures purporting to show mass military casualties are wilfully circulated online. Such unpatriotic acts are discouraging and demoralising our troops, and must stop forthwith,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
While appealing to the media to play a lead role in the campaign, he urged journalists covering the military to show utmost professionalism in their reporting, especially by seeking official clarification before reporting casualty figures, and realising that the military will not release the identities of soldiers who have paid the ultimate price without first notifying their families.
The Minister also urged the media not to reveal national security as well as military plans, saying such acts can put our troops in harm’s way,.
He however said those who engage in the act of disinformation against the military are few, and do not represent the majority of Nigerians who appreciate the patriotism and the sacrifice of our gallant troops.
”That’s why we are launching this campaign, to mobilise the majority of the good people of Nigerians, irrespective of their political, religious or ethnic leanings, to show support for our military,” Alhaji Mohammed said, adding: ”It’s not unusual, as a matter of fact it’s usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of challenge, people will sink their differences and work together.”
He explained that the campaign will be multi-faceted, and will include production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media intervention and advocacy.
The launch of the campaign was attended by the Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, Director of Public Relations and Information of the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman and the Director Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Sulaiman Dahun.